The Louis D. Brandeis Center joins the AMCHA Initiative and twenty other groups in writing a letter to UCI Chancellor and Vice Chancellor about the “Anti-Zionist Week 2015” at UC Irvine.
May 1, 2015
UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman
UCI Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Thomas Parham
Dear Chancellor Gillman and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Parham:
The 22 organizations below are extremely concerned that two UCI registered student organizations—the Muslim Student Union and Students for Justice in Palestine—have announced that on May 4-7, 2015, they will be hosting “Anti-Zionism Week 2015.”
This means a week of events, speakers, discussions, displays and possibly street theater that are meant to create animosity towards Israel and anyone who supports it.
Please be aware that many UCI students, faculty, and community members self-identify as Zionists. An “Anti-Zionism Week” will be offensive, divisive, and hurtful to them, and could create a hostile campus environment.
If past years of anti-Zionism weeks offer any guidance, these events, individually and/or collectively, will in great likelihood include statements and create an atmosphere that is not only anti-Zionist but also anti-Semitic under the U.S. State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism. In particular, the State Department’s definition notes the ways that anti-Semitism manifests itself in regard to speech about the State of Israel:
- Demonizing Israel: using symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism to characterize Israel or Israelis; comparing Israeli policies to that of the Nazis; blaming Israel for all political tensions.
- Double Standards toward Israel: requiring of Israel behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation; focusing only on Israel for peace or human rights investigations.
- Delegitimizing Israel: denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination in their ancestral homeland; denying Israel the right to exist.
Recently, the student senates of UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UC Santa Barbara responded to the escalation of anti-Semitic activity on UC campuses by unanimously passing resolutions condemning anti-Semitism, citing this above definition. These resolutions resolved to use the State Department’s definition to help identify anti-Semitic activity. In 2014, the student government at UC Irvine passed a resolution affirming its “strong opposition” to anti-Semitism and all forms of racism and discrimination. Link to that resolution: HERE.